You will be rejected for 100% of the grants you do not apply for. This has been quoted and requoted many times (a great article of encouragement available here). The best way to write a successful proposal is to write proposals and submit them, many times!
Don’t be discouraged if you do not get a grant right away—it can take two or three times to receive funding from an organization. The best thing to do is keep refining the proposal as you receive feedback from the grant organization.
Say the main point right away! Often in writing we are tempted to lead up to the main point and state our thesis at the very end of the introduction. In grant writing, the opposite is more effective! State your case right away—even as bluntly as “We seek a grant from [Organization X] in order to [Your Project].” The sooner you tell the organization why you are seeking funding, the stronger your case is.
Be concise, but don’t be vague. This is a balancing act: you want to give the organization and the decision-makers enough evidence that you know what you are doing, and that you can bring a project to completion. At the same time, you don’t want to overwhelm them with the entire history of the field. Usually, aim to use the full length of the proposal limit (3, 5, 25 pages) and make good use of the headings they suggest (“project purpose” or “methodology”)—this can help you organize your thoughts and recognize where you might be adding unnecessary detail.
If you have any questions or need any assistance during the process, please contact Margaret Ivy, Grants Coordinator, at margaret.ivygordon.edu or by phone at 978.867.4360.